Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

“Spanish” Rice

August 14th, 2010 No comments

My mother began cooking for a family during the Great Depression, and recipes like this must have been her mainstays.  I think of her, always cooking up something delicious that didn’t break the bank.

I suppose she called this “Spanish” because of the chili powder, but it’s really the bacon that gives the dish its characteristic flavor.  (I do often make it bacon-free, however, using a bit of oil to saute the green pepper, in place of the bacon fat.)   How much salt you add will depend on whether you salted the rice in preparing it ahead, and whether you use bacon.

  • 4 slices bacon, optional
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (14 oz., about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili con carne powder
  • 1 cup water
  • salt

Fry the bacon until semi-crisp in a large skillet, remove the bacon, and leave the bacon fat in the skillet.  Dice the bacon coarsely.  Fry the green pepper in the bacon fat, until barely cooked.  Drain off most of the fat and add the remaining ingredients along with the diced bacon, and simmer and stir about 15 minutes, until the liquids are absorbed.

Serves four.

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Crazy about “Cukes”

August 12th, 2010 1 comment

My better half loves English cucumbers and could probably subsist entirely on sandwiches he calls “Cheese and Cues,” made with slices of cucumber and cheddar cheese.  This year the garden at House of Blues produced its first crop of cucumbers, and in abundance– English cucumbers for Mike, and lemon cucumbers for me.  At the moment “cukes” abound both here and at the grocery store a block away (where large standard cucumbers are on sale at 25 cents each).

Besides giving them as gifts and preparing Cheese and Cue, what can we do with our abundant supply?

A new discovery for me is a simple cucumber salad made with sour cream.  I peel and chop the cucumber fairly fine and squeeze it in a paper towel to remove excess juice, then combine it with “sour cream” (the “light” kind, made with nonfat milk) and a little salt.  Sometimes I add a little cheese or drained ripe olive, chopped very fine.  A good proportion is about 3/4 cup of sour cream to each large standard or English cucumber.  The salad,  glowing in color and subtly flavored, is an addictive delight beyond the plain “cuke,” believe me.  (Of course some might say it is no match for Cheese and Cue.)

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“Casablanca” Hot Cocoa

March 21st, 2010 1 comment

What made us both think of hot cocoa on the way home from the delicious and romantic movie?  Was it telepathy?  We we both under a spell cast by the film, or even by the theatre, Seattle’s historic Egyptian?

This makes an extra-rich drink.  For every two servings use 3 tablespoons cocoa, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup hot water, and 1 and 1/4 cups milk.  In a saucepan over low heat, stir together the water, cocoa and sugar until it is smooth.  Stir in the milk.  Raise the heat to moderate.  Keep stirring and bring the mixture almost to the point of boiling.  Remove from the heat and serve.

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Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes

December 30th, 2009 1 comment

A boring name for a fluffy, practical, luscious and highly fattening version of “mash,” as given twenty-some years ago by a Southern cook.  A great dish to make ahead, and a handy one to take to a potluck, if your hostess can spare a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

  • Five pounds potatoes
  • Six to eight ounces cream cheese
  • One cup sour cream
  • Two T. softened butter
  • About one t. salt, to taste

Peel, cut up, boil, and mash the potatoes.  Using a mixer, combine all the ingredients while the potatoes are still warm, and beat until fluffy.  Butter a large casserole dish and fill it with the potatoes.  Dot the top with butter.  Cover and refrigerate.  Up to a few days later, take the dish out, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

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Velvety Winter Squash

November 22nd, 2009 No comments

Cornell’s Bush Delicata is the name of the ellipse-shaped, ivory-skinned winter squash we grew this year in the garden at House of Blues.  These handsome vegetables have a velvety, golden interior.  Leave the squash whole and pierce it with a fork in about six places.  I mircrowaved the squash on “High” for about seven minutes, cut it in half length-wise, and added a little butter and salt.  Serves two.

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Rhubarb Crumble

September 24th, 2009 No comments

This is a simple dessert made with pantry ingredients and the fruit of your backyard rhubarb plant.


  • 4 cups rhubarb pieces (1/2 inch slices)
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 6 T flour
  • 1 T butter


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter

Place the rhubarb in a large bowl.  Measure the other ingredients for the filling into a separate bowl and rub or cut in the butter.  Stir into the rhubarb until well mixed and place in a 10-inch pie dish. In a separate bowl measure and cut in the topping ingredients.  Pat the topping down over the filling.  Bake the crumble at 375 dregrees f. until golden and bubbly.

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Use Stems and All with Swiss Chard

August 19th, 2009 No comments

A favorite vegetable is white-stemmed Swiss chard.  Coarsely chop the mature leaves, dice the stems, and cook till tender in boiling, salted water.  The result is mellow-tasting and delectable.  Try adding a splash of vinegar just before serving.  You can substitute Swiss chard for spinach in cooked dishes, with the advantage that you can use the chard stems.  In “The Green Thumb Book of Fruit and Vegetable Gardening” (George Abraham, 1970) you will find the ultimate chard-stem recipe:  “Chicken Chard.”  The recipe calls for dipping pre-cooked stem pieces in batter and frying them in one inch of cooking oil.  “Delicious– just like fried chicken!” says the author.

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“Auto Upholstery” and Quick Hot Sauce

August 16th, 2009 No comments

Being in Seattle means a favorite savory treat, injera, the native bread of Ethiopia, which can best be described as a huge, stretchy, grayish, slightly sour-tasting pancake that somehow becomes irresistible when served with vegetables, or a sauce made with red pepper.

It is an acquired taste not acquired by my better half, who refers to it as “auto upholstery,” conjuring images of the rusted hulks you see in wrecking yards, with the stuffing popping out of torn bucket seats.

I forge ahead undeterred.

This week I visited one of many Ethiopian stores in our part of the city.  The market sells packages of fresh injera at $3 for five or $5 for ten.  Believe me, a five-pack  of the thirteen-and-one-half-inch pancakes is sufficient for us, since obviously I am the only resident of House of Blues who likes auto upholstery for lunch.

A half pancake, covered with sauce and rolled up, accompanied by cooked Swiss chard and a boiled egg, makes a meal.  Injera also becomes a great appetizer or snack when cut in strips, spread with sauce, and rolled up.

Ethiopian cooks make a luscious sauce that I understand takes all day to cook and requires huge amounts of onions.  I’ll never forget my visit to Tsegge’s kitchen, and the mouthwatering, spicy sauce she produced.

I use a quick alternative that is no match for the real thing but suffices for the amateur injera connoisseur.   For it you need Berbere spice, made with ground red peppers, available in varying, and not necessarily predictable, intensity at Ethiopian markets.   Combine it with a good-quality marinara sauce that you purchase by the jar at your supermarket.  Because the spice is HOT and varies in strength, you will need to experiment a little with method and proportion.  Here is how I make the sauce with the Berbere I buy at the local Ethiopian market:

For about a cup of sauce, heat about two tablespoons of water to boiling, in a small saucepan.  Turn down the heat and add about two teaspoons of Berbere powder and stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth.  Add one cup of the marinara sauce.  Continue stirring while you bring the sauce to temperature over a moderate flame.

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Simple, Colorful Stir-Fry

July 28th, 2009 No comments

Stir Fry

Stir Fry

Use a deep skillet or a wok.  Serves two, generously.

  • 1/2 15-oz. can or jar of baby corn, optional
  • 1/2 pound whole baby garden carrots (or mature carrots pared and cut in thin sticks)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • about 15 snap peas
  • 2 T. minced fresh ginger, optional
  • 1/2 t. red curry powder
  • 1 1/2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Drain the baby corn and blanch it for about 30 seconds in boiling water.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Boil the carrots for about five minutes, until barely tender. Drain and set aside to cool.  In a small bowl, mix together the last four ingredients until smooth, and set aside.  Slice the bell pepper in thin strips and fast fry in a small amount of oil until barely tender, turning all the while.  Sprinkle with the red curry and ginger and stir till well-coated.  Add the remaining vegetables and sauce and heat to boiling.  Serve with rice.

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Brown Bread

July 18th, 2009 No comments

We make bread with a bread machine, and if I am careful, the bread turns out velvety and delicious.  Because it tastes so much better than “shop” bread, we eat it nearly exclusively.  Bread is chemistry, if not alchemy: I think it’s important to measure the ingredients exactly, especially the yeast; and to use bread flour, not the all-purpose kind.  (The label on the bag of flour should at the very least mention bread.)  Getting the water-temperature right is a tricky issue that I assume you have mastered.

Your bread machine will dictate the order and method, but here are the ingredients for our brown bread.

Makes a 1.5 pound loaf.

  • 1 cup + 3 T. water (80 degrees f.)
  • 2 T.  oil
  • 3 T. molasses
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. dry milk powder (skim is OK)
  • 2 cups white bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat bread flour
  • 1 1/2 t. active dry yeast*

*We use the granulated kind that comes in a jar.  I prefer a brand that at least mentions bread machines on the label.

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